Colombia International Adoption Process and Cost

The international adoption process and cost can be a little different for each country. Colombia is part of the Hague Adoption Convention, so you must follow the requirements of the convention, U.S. laws, and the rules and regulations of the Colombian Government. Over 90% of Colombians speak Spanish.

International adoption from Colombia is a process where you adopt a child in Colombia and immigrate them back to the United States. This process is different than some other countries where you can complete the adoption here in America, after escorting the child home. In Colombia, you must adopt the child in Colombia, in front of a judge, and then file the immigration paperwork with the U.S. to bring them home. The process costs up to $25,000.

For many years the Colombian people have suffered from armed conflicts and political violence. Since 2005 the country has found some solid ground, although alerts of terrorism and crime still exist.

Colombia is located in South America, and borders Peru, and the Caribbean. The population is roughly 48 million people. They have the second-highest biodiversity in the world, with territories in the amazon rainforest, grasslands, desert region, islands and coastlines.

Children are often the ones who suffer the most in places that do not offer stable environments. International adoptions can bring joy into so many lives, by offering a family unit and a chance for both the parents and child to build a future together.

Colombia is a diverse region; they have many tribes and different indigenous people. While the majority of Colombians speak Spanish, many of them also speak different native languages. In most cases, you will need to hire a translator to help guide you while in Colombia.

If you are considering an international adoption from Colombia, we hope to help guide you through how that process works.


The International Adoption Process Starts with Research

Before we begin with the process let’s look at how good, thorough research can get you ahead.

You will want to start by researching the country itself. When you adopt internationally you must consider that you are also adopting the culture of the child and in some cases family members and cultural identity.

A child that is adopted internationally doesn’t come to America and just lose all of their history and ties to their ancestry.

Get to know a little about where these children come from, their history and what they have gone through, to get a better understanding of who they are.

Next, you should start researching the documents and requirements for adopting from Colombia to the United States. The more documents you can gather before you start the process and the more things you can get out of the way, the faster the process will be.

We’ve included a small resource section at the end of this article to help you research the documents that you need to adopt a child internationally from Colombia.

Some terms to get familiar with when researching international adoption from Colombia:

Intercountry adoption

An intercountry adoption simply means, international adoption. Or adopting a child from one country into another.


The ICBF (Colombia Family Welfare Institute) oversees all adoptions from Colombia. They make the final decision on whether or not a child will be placed into your care.

Program Fee

Also known as country fee or government fee, this is the fee that Colombia charges for international adoption.


The Process for Adopting a Child from Colombia

The international adoption process varies by country, each country having slightly different sets of rules and regulations.

The Hague Adoption Convention brings the countries who are party to the convention to a higher standard, keeping children from danger by going through the proper protocols for making sure the process is safe for the child.

Colombia is part of the Convention.

The one difference that Colombia has from some of the other countries is that you must adopt your child in Colombia in front of a judge, then gain a visa for the child to complete immigration steps.

Here is a quick overview of the process:

  • Find an Agency
  • Adoption Application
  • Home Study
  • Dossier
  • Travel to Colombia
  • Adopt in Colombia
  • Immigration to U.S.
  • Post Adoption

Find an Agency

You will want to do a fair amount of research on the agency you choose. It helps to pick an agency that has a history with Colombia, that way they will have most of the information you need.

All agencies are different and offer different types of services when it comes to international adoption.

Because Colombia is part of the Hague Convention you will need to find an accredited agency.

The Adoption Application

Once you have found your agency you will complete the adoption application paperwork. It can sometimes take a couple weeks for your application to be approved.

The Home Study

A home study is the process where a social worker comes to your home to interview you and others who live in the home. They make sure the environment is safe and reports back to the agency.

You must complete a home study for countries within the Hague Convention in order to finish the paperwork for eligibility.

The Dossier

The dossier is a folder of documents and interviews put together by the agency that makes sure all of your information is in one place and accessible. The dossier will hold your government paperwork, agency paperwork and more.

Travel to Colombia

You must travel to Colombia to meet the child. This can take 4 – 6 weeks. You are required to live in-house, with the child in Colombia for at least 10 days.

You will need to make all travel arrangements as well as transportation and lodging.

Adoption in Colombia

Colombia requires that you adopt in Colombia, before bringing the child home and completing the immigration process.

You will have to go in front of a judge in Colombia to finalize the adoption.

Child’s Immigration to the U.S.

You will then have to gain a visa for the child and start the immigration process back to the U.S. This is done through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Post Adoption

Once you are back with your child, you will have to complete the post-adoption part of the process.

A social worker will return to your home, sometimes with multiple visits to make sure that you and the child are fitting into the new environment.


Who Can Adopt a Child Internationally from Colombia?

Adoptive parents should be at least 25 years of age, or at least 15 years old then the child being adopted.

Parents – 25 to 45 years Children – 0 to 4 years (59 months) Oldest sibling 0 to 6 years and 11 months
Parents – 46 to 50 years Children – 5 to 10 years (60 months to 9 years and 11 months) Oldest sibling 7 to 9 years and 11 months

If both parents are different ages, one parent can be no older than 45 years older than the adopted child. Married parents must be married for at least 3 years. There must be no more than 3 divorces per spouse.

At least one of the parents must be a United States citizen. Priority is given to parents who speak Spanish, since it is the language of Colombia.

There are no religious requirements. Applicants have no limit to the number of other children that live in their home.

You may not have a criminal record when adopting from Colombia. Both parents must pass a background check and comply with FBI fingerprinting.

Parents must also have a healthy medical status and must pass a physical in order to adopt. They must also have no mental conditions such as schizophrenia.

There are no requirements on sexual orientation, gay and lesbian parents may adopt from Colombia.

Single women can adopt children with special needs or children over the age of 10, while single men can only adopt children over the age of 10.


What Children are Available for Adoption?

So many countries have children in orphanages that need to find forever homes and Colombia is no exception. You can make a difference in a child’s life and starting your journey to an international adoption from Colombia will change not just the child’s life but also yours!

You are able to adopt healthy children ages 9 – 15 in Colombia. You are no longer able to adopt children under the age of 9 unless you have Colombian heritage or unless the child has special needs.

Families with Colombian heritage may adopt children ages 6 months to 9 years old.

Hague Convention countries put emphasis on placing children in homes of family members and relatives before considering intercountry adoptions.

Like many other countries, Colombia wishes for you to consider the adoption of special needs children first. Healthy children are almost always placed into the care of family or relatives.

Most intercountry adoptions from Colombia are of children 9 years or older. Children of all ages with special needs are available for adoption.

Costs for International Adoption from Colombia

Every country has different costs associated with international adoption. Colombia is not the cheapest.

They have a higher program fee (country fee) than other countries. You must also spend on average, 2-3 weeks in Colombia for the adoption process.

Here is a shortlist of the projected costs:

  • Application Fee
  • U.S. Government Fees
  • Home Study Costs
  • Dossier Costs
  • Travel costs
  • Program Fee
  • Translation Fees (if non-Spanish speaking)
  • Court Fees (Adopting in Colombia)
  • Post Adoption Fees

Application Fee

There is an application fee for adopting a child internationally. There is also a waiting list that you are put on while waiting to be placed with a child.

This process can take 6 months to a year.

U.S. Government Fees

There are multiple fees included in the U.S. government fees, including visa, immigration paperwork, and other paperwork that you must file with your state and government.

The Home Study Costs

There are fees associated with the Home Study. These are paid to the social worker and the agency for hours logged and documents provided.

The social worker may need to make multiple visits so the price can vary depending on circumstances.

Dossier Costs

There are dossier fees that go to putting together your information, different documents, and the interview and logs provided by the social worker after your home study.

Travel Costs

You will have to travel to Colombia, you are required to live in-house with the child for at least 10 days, but the process takes 3 – 6 weeks total.

You oversee the costs of the plane tickets, transportation in Colombia as well as lodging and food.

If there are two parents, one parent may return to the U.S. after ten days while the other remains for the rest of the process.

Program Fee

Most countries charge a country fee, also known as a program fee or government fee. Colombia charges around $14,000 for their program fee which is considerably higher than the average being around $5,000.

Translation Fee

If you do not speak basic Spanish, you will need to have a translator, as Colombians speak mostly Spanish. These fees are relatively cheap but necessary.

Court Fees

The process for adopting a child international in Colombia requires that you go in front of a Colombian judge to get an adoption decree.

Once you have obtained the decree, you will get a birth certificate and start the process for obtaining a visa and the child’s immigration into the United States.

Post Adoption Costs

Since a social worker must return to your home for post-adoption there are costs that go into paying them as well as the agency to finish the process for international adoption from Colombia.

The overall projected cost to adopt a child from Colombia is up to $25,000.

Some Things to Consider When Adopting a Child Internationally

There are many ups and downs when dealing with international adoption. Sometimes paperwork can hold the process up, or something like a criminal record could hold you back.

Don’t get discouraged when going through this, good things come to those who are patient and this process takes time and commitment.

If you have a small thing on your criminal record, be upfront about it and let it reflect that in your paperwork. Often times as long as you do not have any crimes of moral turpitude or abuse you will be fine.

Things happen with paperwork and are usually fixed easily with the help of the adoption agency or social worker.

The most important thing to consider is that you should have realistic expectations, things go wrong and it is best to have a backup plan or other options.

Since countries who are party to the Hague Convention try to place healthy children in homes of relatives, you should expect to adopt from children who have special needs or that are an older age than you might be looking for.

It is difficult to adopt an infant from Colombia unless you are of Colombian heritage. Find out more about the adoption of infants here.

With that said, you should always know what you are up against. If these options are not for you, there are always other countries and more options.

How Long Does an International Adoption from Colombia Take?

After you file the application for adoption, there is a 6 – 12 month wait on the referral process, where they place you with an available child.

Once you have been approved for the referral process you will need to complete the U.S. paperwork and plan your trip. This can take a couple of weeks, you should always be prepared for mistakes that can slow the process.

As mentioned in the beginning, the more research and paperwork you can get out of the way before you start the application can help speed up the process considerably, things like getting your background check and fingerprints done first.

Once you are in Colombia you must stay there for 3 – 6 weeks for the adoption process. You are required to live in-house with the child for 10 days before you go before a judge for the adoption decree.

Once you have completed all of that you will file the visa and immigration paperwork and bring your child home to the United States.

Post-adoption can take multiple visits and the length of the process varies depending on circumstances and situations, as well as with different agencies who have different processes. More information here, on how long it takes to adopt internationally.

A few resources for international adoption from Colombia:

The ICBF website (In Spanish – use Google Translate)

U.S. Immigration (USCIS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)

Travel Advisory from U.S. Department of State

Related Questions

Do you have to speak Spanish to adopt a child from Colombia? You do not have to speak Spanish, but parents who know basic Spanish are sometimes given priority over non-Spanish speaking parents.

If you do not speak Spanish, you will have to hire a translator to help with the overall process.

Is it safe to travel to Colombia? There are risks when traveling to Colombia and the U.S. suggests you travel with extreme caution, due to terrorism and criminal activity. Colombia is much safer today than it was 20 years ago, but you must still be diligent and make every effort to keep yourself and your adopted child safe once in your custody.

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Chad Kilpatrick

A freelance writer passionate about adoption and helping to find children in need a forever home.

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